23 February 2009

PowerPoint style presentation continues to dominate BBC News – courtesy Robert Peston (again)

In a number of previous posts (here and here), I’ve complained about the obsession of BBC Television news (and other) programmes with increasingly elaborate and confusing graphics.

I can see that using computerised graphics is cheaper than sending reporters and camera crews out to film newsworthy events, but they leave the average viewer (e.g. me) ever more baffled and confused about what tonight's gripping messages are supposed to be.

As if the distracting information overload inflicted on us by the daily diet of PowerPoint presentations isn’t depressing enough, our premier public service broadcaster is still giving us yet another dose of much the same thing on its prime-time evening news bulletins.

Tonight’s offering from Robert Preston plumbed new depths (see below). The ‘news story’ was actually a lecture, disguised as television news footage by flashing moving numbers on the screen, followed by a still picture with a bullet point on it purporting to explain what the biggest of the numbers is supposed to mean.

Just in case anyone was getting bored or baffled by Peston’s monologue at this stage, he suddenly materialises, still talking, on a small TV screen in the corner of a room, from which furniture and fittings keep disappearing – possibly because they can’t stand any more of it either.

Our esteemed business correspondent then returns to his natural habitat, standing next to a screen with slides on it, before we finally get to see a few seconds of film of buildings in the City of London that are presumably intended to make us feel that his PowerPoint presentation was a news story after all.

(I'd be interested to hear from visitors from outside the UK whether this bizarre development in television news coverage is a peculiarly British phenomenon or is a world-wide trend).

video

2 comments:

Chris Witt said...

As an American I've always held the BBC in high regard. Please, please, please tell me that it hasn't made this type of reporting common. It's both confusing and creepy.

Is no place safe? Any day now preachers, prime ministers, and presidents will be using PowerPoint.

I don't watch a lot of network news here in the U.S., but I haven't noticed PowerPoint creeping in. Yet.

Max Atkinson said...

I wish I could tell you that this type of confusing and creepy (as you so aptly describe it) reporting isn't common. But it has, alas, become the norm on BBC television, whose news programmes routinely start with the newsreader standing next to a screen, followed by reporters standing next to other screens.

It's PowerPoint style, rather than actual PowerPoint, as the BBC has equipped itself with much more sophisticated and expensive software than that.

To give an idea of how extreme it's getting, the sequence to be seen (if you can bear it) on the video below the first link on this posting took up 18% of one entire bulletin -- and there was other similar stuff on the same programme.